The Adventures of the Crimson Ace: Episode I

In a world where justice is high and tight, where death dances on the outside corner, one man dares to walk the thin line between balls and strikes.  By day, he is Brad Penny, well-heeled major league baseball pitcher and man-about-town.  By night, he dons a red cowl and becomes…  THE CRIMSON ACE.

Today, The Crimson Ace meets his most fearsome foe to date, the dreaded DOMESTIC DISTURBER, a villain of little chivalry but great cruelty.  What will happen when these two powerhouses clash?  Find out in “The Adventures of the Crimson Ace: Episode I”.

***

The veins on Inspector La Russa’s neck bulged as he slammed the newspaper down on his desk.  “There has got to be a less humiliating way for me to contact you,” he growled at the shadowy figure in the corner.  He pointed to a small column in the personal ads that read:

Rugged Police Commissioner seeks big strong bear for midnight rendezvous.  Strong sense of justice is a must.

“Don’t worry, inspector,” said the Crimson Ace, leaning back in his chair.  Lightning flashed across the room, revealing his squinty eyes and puffy cheeks.  “No one reads the papers anymore.”

La Russa paced around the room, waiting for the thunderclap that never came.  “Well I’m glad you’re here.  We have a situation.”

The Crimson Ace reached into his coat pocket.  “Good.  I live for situations.”  He pulled out a package of Twinkies and began to unwrap it, his fingers moving deftly across the sealed plastic with the familiarity of a concert pianist tickling his favorite ivories.

“A dangerous criminal has arrive in town from Houston.  I need him out of the city, and soon.”

“So, what are we talking?”  The Crimson Ace bit into the first Twinkie and continued talking as he savored the sweet filling.  “Murderer?  Drug dealer?  Kidnapper?  Multi-national terrorist?”

La Russa shook his head.  “Wifebeater.”

The crimefighter stopped eating and stared at the inspector in disbelief.  “He beats his wife?  That’s it?  How is that my problem?”

“How’s that your problem? Domestic violence is society’s problem, Ace.  We all gotta pitch in to help bring this goddamn city out of the stone age.”

“But I’m a master detective, a shadow warrior of steel forged from the crucible of the city streets.”  As soon as he swallowed the last bit of the first Twinkie, he had the second in hand, as quick as a gunslinger drawing his sidearm in the last seconds of a firefight.  “Isn’t stuff like this more your jurisdiction?  I have archvillains to catch.”

La Russa put his hands on his hips.  “And you don’t think a man who beats his wife can be a criminal mastermind?”

“Well, it’s not exactly enslaving a town with sleeping gas, using dark magick to set historic site ablaze or planning to replace the president of the United States with Hitler’s half brother.”

“So what you’re saying is that you don’t think that sort of systematic oppression in a relationship is worthy of your time?”

“Fine.  I’ll do it.  The Crimson Ace tolerates no injustice and his righteous vengeance strikes fear in all criminals, great or small.”

“Good.”  The inspector handed him a folder.  “His name is Brett, but I have heard that in criminal circles, he goes by the name The Domestic Disturber.  He’s been spotted down by the stadium, with his posse from Houston.  We’ll have your back on this, Ace.  They’re tough, but they’ve been driven out of cities across the country.  I have no doubt you can handle this.”

The Crimson Ace stood up and brushed the crumbs off of his coat.  “Of course I can handle this.  I eat fear for breakfast and chase my whiskey with a swig of terror.”

La Russa pointed at his collar, where a small dollop of cream filling tainted his midnight black coat.  “You’ve…  You’ve got a little something there.”

The master crimefighter glanced over, and with a flick of his wrist plucked the cream from the fabric with an outstretched finger.  “Good work, inspector,” he said.  “I always know I can count on you.”

***
The air around the stadium was stale and The Crimson Ace could smell the fumes of crime left festering after the rain.  He proceeded without fear, knowing that Inspector La Russa and his men were but a few blocks away, ready to join him should the need arise.  Suddenly, the wretched cry of a young woman ripped through the darkness.

“HELP!  HELP ME, SOMEONE!”  The Crimson Ace stood up straight.  Evil was afoot!  There was no time to waste!  Throwing caution to the wind, he took flight in the direction of the screams, sprinting through the damp streets.

Ten seconds later, the Ace stopped, his chest heaving and his throat gasping for air.  His head spun and his gut ached.  He wasn’t sure he could make it.  Then the cry rang out again.  “HELP ME!”  And the Crimson Ace knew that he could not hesitate.  He pulled himself back up, tried to steady his breathing, and walked the rest of the way to the scene of the dastardly crime.

A huge man, with burly arms and a fiery goatee, towered over a bruised and battered woman.  There was no doubt as to the identity of this fearsome fellow.  This could be none other than The Domestic Disturber.

“Step away from your wife,” the Crimson Ace yelled, puffing out his chest for as long as he could manage while still recovering his breath.  “Your brand of caveman misogyny is unwanted in this fair town!”

“Now what is this?” growled the Domestic Disturber.  “Looks like the local hero finally showed up.  We’ve been waiting for you.”  The giant motioned towards a nearby alley.  “Mr. Ace, let me introduce you to my friends, Lance and Hunter.”

The Crimson Ace scoffed.  “Lance and Hunter?  What kind of names are those? What is this, the douche-iest gay porn shoot in the world?”  Suddenly, two men emerged from the shadows.  They were even bigger than the Domestic Disturber, and carried massive sticks.

“Get him, boys!” yelled the Domestic Disturber, and they rushed forward.  Lance grabbed the masked crimefighter and held his hands behind his back.  Hunter reared back and swung his stick, striking the Crimson Ace flush across the cheek.

“Unlike our friend,” Hunter said.  “We don’t hit bitches.  We just hit pitches.”  He swung again, smashing the stick into the Ace’s stomach.

Two blocks away, Inspector La Russa and his men watched the melee from far away.  Captain Albert approached him and tapped him on the shoulder.  “Don’t you think we should do something, sir?” he asked.

La Russa shook his head.  “I’ve seen this a dozen times before.  He can handle himself.”

The three criminals surrounded the Crimson Ace as he collapsed on the ground.  The Domestic Disturber reached down and pulled off his cowl, revealing a doughy face.  “Hey, look!  It’s only Brad Penny!  Can you believe we were worried about this guy?”  They started to laugh.

“No, really, I think we should do something,” Lieutenant Rasmus suggested to Inspector La Russa.  “They’re going to kill him.”

Once again, the police commissioner refused.  “We have to let him handle this on his own.  He can get out of this.”

“No!” One of the men behind him yelled.  “He’s only Brad Penny!  He’s no ace!  I have to help him!”  This was Patrolman Ryan, who had only been on the force for a year.  He sprinted down the street and pulled his revolver.  As he approached the three men surrounding the injured Penny, thoughts of victory and heroism flashed in his mind.  He would be the one to save the great crimefighter.  He was sure of it.

Patrolman Ryan took aim at the Domestic Disturber and prepared to fire.  Then suddenly, he felt his legs give out from under him as he slipped on a small spot of oil.  He tumbled to the ground and lost his grip on the revolver.  It skidded across the ground and to the feet of Lance and Hunter.

The two burly men looked at each other.  Lance reached down and picked up Patrolman Ryan’s revolver.  BANG! He shot the Brad Penny in his right knee.  Then he handed the weapon to Hunter.  BANG!  Hunter took out the left knee.

Inspector La Russa hesitated, still unsure whether it was time to intervene.  Finally, he gave the order.  “Okay men, move out!  Let’s clean this up!”

***

What will become of Brad Penny?  Is his crimefighting career over?  Will The Domestic Disturber go unpunished?  Find out next time on The Further Adventures of the Crimson Ace!

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